Sunday

Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I have ever done.’ (v. 39)

John 4:5-42 Sunday 15 March 2020

Psalm: Psalm 95

Background

In this passage Jesus breaks down barriers and we can see how an encounter with Jesus can change a life and a community.

Many devout Jews would have taken a detour to avoid going through Samaria but Jesus didn’t. On his way through, he encountered a woman at a well outside her city. Jesus spoke to the woman. According to their cultures Jesus shouldn’t have spoken to her at all as she was a woman and they were alone and she was a Samaritan. Yet Jesus ignored these rules and they had a theological discussion.

Much has been made of this woman’s lifestyle and her five husbands; she has been branded as a sinner. Nowhere in the text does Jesus call her a sinner and neither is there any mention of forgiveness. In her culture she would have had no control over her marital status. Her marriages would have been arranged for her – if her husband had died she would have been expected to marry her brother-in-law, whether she wanted to or not. She could not survive if she were not married or under the protection of a male relative. Her past was less of a lifestyle choice and more of an indication of the lack of status and agency of women in that time.

This conversation with Jesus may have been the first time in her life that she had been treated with respect. This woman, so much of a nobody in her time that she is not even named, encountered Jesus and became the first evangelist ... and a very successful one at that.

 

To Ponder:

  • In this passage we see Jesus extending his call to those who were outsiders. Do you think that there are those who are still judged to be outside of the call of Jesus?
  • What unnecessary boundaries do you think there are that prevent the spread of the gospel?
  • Why do you think that the Samaritan woman’s so called ‘sins’ have been the dominant theme in Scriptural interpretation of this passage for so long rather than her successful evangelism?
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